Steven Prawer,
Director, University
of Melbourne Materials
Institute
 
Melbourne, Australia and Campbell, CA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- September 7, 2009 - The University of Melbourne and California-based electric vehicle charging infrastructure provider Better Place have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, under which the University will launch research projects into the challenges surrounding the introduction of electric vehicles on Australia’s roads.

The projects, which will be supported by Better Place, will involve three of the University’s institutes, Melbourne Materials Institute, the Sustainability Institute and the Energy Institute. The company’s first demonstration electric vehicle is also housed at the University and will be used to evaluate the new technology.

Issues that will be studied include the ability of Australia’s electricity infrastructure to cope with the mass adoption of electric cars, battery technology, the environmental impact of electric cars and even the implications of their near-silent running on pedestrian traffic.

The director of the University of Melbourne’s Materials Institute, Professor Steven Prawer, said the University community is excited by the prospect of working on a transformative technology which is likely to have a major impact on the way we live, work and travel.
 
“This initiative is set to make a significant contribution to Victoria’s environmental agenda by combining the University’s broad research endeavors with the business and consumer side of the innovation process,” said Prawer.

Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley, added that the partnership is an important step in the collaboration between public and private sectors which should accelerate a move toward the mass adoption of zero emissions private transport.
 
“Our research shows there’s proven demand for electric vehicles, and this partnership is further evidence that the transition is inevitable,” Thornley commented.
 
As part of a Memorandum of Understanding, a state-of-the-art energy education facility will be developed at the University’s main campus to provide the public with hands-on access to the latest technologies. Design of the facility is scheduled to begin in 2011.

Last year Better Place launched its activities in Australia with partnerships with AGL Energy to provide renewable energy to power electric vehicles and investment advisor Macquarie to provide financial advice to help raise AU$1 billion (US$852 million) for an initial electric vehicle infrastructure network build. Earlier this year the company selected Canberra for the first city-wide rollout of its infrastructure in Australia.